The holidays have always been my favorite time of the year because of the endless memories that were created with my family. I remember everyone gathering every year at my grandmother’s home, walking into the door greeted by the sweet aroma of all her specialties like stuffing, collard greens, yams, of course, her famous German chocolate cake. I’ll never forget the precious memories of everyone sitting by the tree and unwrapping presents silently praying someone got you something great. I loved when close friends and family came in and out of what seemed like a revolving door to “stop by and say hi” and make a plate of food. The sweetest moments for me were the times that laughter filled the WHOLE house because of the jokes we’d sling back and forth that only my family and I would understand.
Anxiety, sadness, and regret are just a few words I can use to express how I’m beginning to feel for this upcoming holiday season. During this season, the laughs will be different and the jokes will never be the same. There was always one special person in our family that walked into the door laughing and ready to give her best jokes for all to hear, that person was my mom.
2019 marks two years of not hearing her voice during the holiday season. Last year my family and I were still suffering the shock of the devastating loss during the holiday season. Numb is the only word I can use to describe the pain I felt. This year I entered the healing stage– the stage of owning up to my feelings and finally admitting I feel sad, hurt, empty and probably still broken on the inside. It will be another year of missing her face, sitting around the Thanksgiving table or Christmas tree, eating and unwrapping gifts.
While it seems like everyone in the whole world began preparing for this holiday season with excitement, anxiety started to overtake my mind. I have been relentlessly trying to convince myself that this year will be better than last year without her and that I too, will regain my excitement for the holidays like everyone else. I have finally allowed myself to realize that the holidays will probably never be the same without my mother here– the jokes will be different and there will always be a puzzle piece that is missing which made our family complete.
I have learned in therapy that grief has no time limit; it’s quite the process. In the midst of the process, you learn how to heal and how to continue with everyday life.
As the days approach Christmas (my mom’s favorite holiday), despite my uncertainty of how everything will go, I would like to share how I will cope during this holiday season. If you are like me and you’re experiencing holiday blues this year too, I’ll leave you with a few tips that seem to help me this time of year.
- Do not set yourself up with any crazy expectations. Don’t assume you will be fine that day, you probably won’t and that’s okay.
- If you are not already in therapy, you just might want to try it out. Going to therapy will help you discuss your feelings with a licensed professional and prevent you from holding them inside. They will even give you helpful tips for coping with loss, not just during the holidays, but throughout your grieving and healing process as well. If you don’t think therapy is for you, be sure to talk to someone that you trust and inform them of all that you are feeling during this time. Let it all out and don’t hold back
- Allow yourself to cry if you feel you need to. It is totally okay to cry. You’re still grieving. Give yourself a moment to step away from everyone and go into a quiet place.
- Give thanks to GOD for the people that are still in your life and create sweet, new memories with them. The people in your life still need you despite how you may be feeling currently. Don’t stop creating memories with the ones that are still here. During your healing process, you will learn how to cherish people more and love them better.
- Honor your loved one. Someone special gave me the idea to wear my mom’s favorite color last year to honor her memory. Be sure to speak their name at dinner that day. Talk about your favorite memories of them. They may not be there physically but they left a mark in your life and in the lives of others.